County commissioners urge housing authority to consult Hayden and Oak Creek
Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners asked Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley and his board of directors this week to consult with the smaller communities in the county before assuming the city of Steamboat Springs is the logical place to build new affordable housing projects.
Peasley said the YVHA is entering a new era in which it will have more manageable debt and more secure income-generating assets, allowing it to begin looking for its next housing project.
“It’s been a very good year,” Peasley said. “We were able to strengthen our organization financially and stabilize our assets, which gives us an opportunity to start looking forward to what’s next. Our objective is to work with the city and county and establish housing goals, then go out and implement those goals.”
Peasley said that, as the YVHA board of directors looks to the future, the intent is to meet the valley’s affordable housing needs within Steamboat rather than in outlying towns.
“We don’t want it to become Hayden’s and Oak Creek’s problem,” he said.
Commissioner Doug Monger responded that he sees a need for Routt County to grow as a whole, rather than concentrating residential growth only in Steamboat, in order to promote more resilient communities.
“Hayden and Oak Creek might like to have people come live there, and they have the existing infrastructure to support it,” Monger said. “That would help with the fixed cost of utilities. We ought to, as we create a (new) strategic plan, go visit those other communities.”
Commissioner Tim Corrigan said he had calculated that unincorporated Phippsburg, south of Oak Creek, could accommodate 34 additional homes.
YVHA is on the verge of ridding itself of about $2 million in debt tied to the purchase of the Elk River property at the height of the real estate mark in the middle of the last decade. The debt service has effectively handcuffed the authority in terms of its ability to deliver new housing projects.
But that’s about to change with the news in July that the Colorado Housing Finance Authority had awarded YVHA nearly $11 million in federal income tax credits. They will be sold to an investor to raise equity for the construction of a 48-unit, income-restricted rental apartment building at Elk River.
YVHA is partnering with private sector developer Overland Property Group on the project. The contract with Overland includes settlement of the outstanding debt on the land with the development of the apartment buildings.
Peasley told county commissioners this week that the tax credits have yet to be sold, and development permit approvals from the city of Steamboat Springs won’t arrive until early 2016.
The other accomplishment achieved by YVHA with collaboration from the city of Steamboat Springs this year is the replacement of aging water and sewer lines at Fish Creek Mobile Home Park. The park is owned and managed by YVHA. Balanced with affordable lot rentals, the mobile home park is a significant source of revenue for the housing authority.
Peasely told commissioners that his board intends, over time, to “ratchet down” the amount of operational subsidies it annually seeks from the city and county while continuing to provide more housing units. In January, he said, YVHA learned demand for workforce housing exceeds supply across all income ranges here.
“I think we need to drill down into that data to identify the need and figure out what product would meet the needs and put that into measurable goals,” Peasley said.
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